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Retired K-9’s Surgery Bill Covered

Nov 16, 2008

Times Call

Foundation to be named for Izzy

By Pierrette J. Shields
Longmont Times Call

Longmont-The $6,000 question posed over a retired police dog's veterinary bill was answered Friday morning.

"I am a little overwhelmed," said Longmont Police Detective Bruce Vaughan, who asked for help Wednesday to pay an anticipated $6,000 bill for his retired partner's back surgery and was surprised to have the tab covered entirely within the week.

The Flatirons Kennel Club board met Thursday evening, discussed Izzy's needs and voted to donate the $6,000 to cover the surgery, which is now scheduled for Nov. 6.

Cathey Dunn, a kennel club board member, said the board routinely donates to animal causes but felt Izzy's story was particularly compelling.

"We've all had dogs. We've all had medical bills," Dunn said. "We decided it was a worthwhile thing to do for the dog and the community."

Izzy served as a Longmont police dog for nine years and amassed an impressive record of arrests. In 2006, the dog conducted 24 narcotics searches and 11 building searches, provided cover for other officers 50 times, made 17 felony arrests, participated in four demonstrations and bit a suspect.

He retired shortly after he was injured in April 2007 while helping arrest a man who had dodged police for two weeks, leading officers on three separate chases in that time.

The man tried to fight off Izzy and flipped him over on his back, which left the dog with a back injury. Initially, vaughan said, it did not seem that severe, but Izzy has progressively gotten worse and now has trouble using his back legs. Surgery to fix the ruptured disc in the dog's spine is expected to cost $6,000.

Vaughan said Izzy would have gotten the surgery no matter what, but he decided to reach out to the community where the dog worked for so long to see if there was any financial help available. The Longmont Fraternal Order of Police opened an account with $500 at Guarantee Bank to accept donations. He said he hoped to raise about half the cost.

"I knew people here in town would rally behind it," Vaughan said Friday. "I have been overwhelmed by the broadness of support, too."

Izzy's plight was publicized on a national news-aggregator web site, and interest in the story exploded. Checks have been dropped off at the police department, and a Las Vegas-based organization that builds computers for needy families quickly organized a raffle with a goal to donate $1,000.

Steve Schulz, president of the Longmont Fraternal Order of Police, said Friday that any money received over the cost of Izzy's medical bills put into the fund, which will be renamed the Izzy Foundation, to provide for medical needs and equipment for K9 officers in Colorado.

"we're super happy with the outpouring of donations right now," Schulz said.

The FOP did not have a tally of donations outside the kennel club's contribution on Friday afternoon.

"I am still speechless at the outpouring," Vaughan said.

Izzy was the only Longmont police dog when he retired, which effectively ended the program until two officers recently volunteered to take on new dogs. The department paid for Izzy's care while he was a working dog, but at retirement, he became Vaughan's responsibility entirely. Vaughan said Izzy's injury did not seem too bad when he retired, but it got worse, and the dog began to lose use of his back legs. Standing is a struggle.

A recent CAT scan revealed the injury to the dog's spine.

Other than the injury, Vaughan said, Izzy is healthy and energetic, even though he is almost 12.

Donations for the fund are still being accepted through FOP No. 6  K9 Fund in care of Guarantee Bank and Trust, P.O. Box 1159, Longmont, CO 80502.

Pierrette J. Shields can be reached at 303-684-5273 or pshields@times-call.com

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